More Nigerian pilgrims died in last week’s Hajj stampede, than previously reported, and the current death toll stands at 74, the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, said Friday.
In an interview with BBC Hausa Service, the chairman of the commission, Abdullahi Mohammed, said the number of the Nigerian pilgrims who died in the tragedy had risen to 74.
While giving the breakdown of the figures, he said 54 out of 74 pilgrims who died in the stampede were from states’ delegation, while 20 were international pilgrims who used private tour operators.
“We can confirm that 75 persons is the latest figure, while 243 pilgrims are [still] missing,” he said.
The NAHCON chairman also said Sokoto State had the highest number of casualties.
Mr. Mohammed said the commission could not declare those missing as dead or injured until the committee set to confirm the status of all victims of the stampede made confirmation.
The commission had earlier said that 54 Nigerians perished in the stampede.
NAHCON said the dead pilgrims were from Bauchi, Borno, Cross Rivers, Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, and Nasarawa states, while others are from Niger, Ogun, Ondo, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe and Zamfara states.
In order account for the number of the victims, NAHCON said two committees had been set up by the commission and the hajj leadership to take care of burial arrangements.
The commission said another committee that would collect information from survivors and witnesses on causes of the stampeded would be headed by the Comptroller General of Nigeria Immigration.
DNA profiling of all victims completed
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s Health Ministry has stated that it has completed the DNA profiling of all the pilgrims who were injured and killed in last week’s stampede in Mina.
It urged victims’ relatives to provide blood samples so that they can be used to match those taken from their loved ones.
Spokesperson of the Ministry Faisal Al-Zahrani told Arab News on Thursday that all the DNA profiles are being kept at Makkah’s Al-Noor Specialist Hospital in Hijra district.
DNA profiling is a forensic technique used to identify individuals.
“The immediate blood relatives of those who are missing should visit Al-Noor Hospital in Makkah and provide their blood samples for the hospital authorities to match their DNA with the ones collected from the stampede victims,” Al-Zahrani said.
He said blood samples are needed from close relatives.
For example, for a woman to be identified though her DNA sample, the hospital would need a sample from either a son, daughter, or parent.